April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases long term survival, which is why it is so important that your dentist do routine oral cancer screenings. Oral cancer kills roughly one person, per hour, every day in the United States. Oral cancer screenings should be done once every three years in adults over the age of 20 and every year in adults over 40. Every dental appointment is an opportunity to be screened.
What is Oral Cancer?
Generally referred to “oral cancer”, oral and oropharyngeal cancers are any cancer that forms in the mouth, lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, hard palate, tonsils and throat.
Most of the time oral cancer is diagnosed late when it has spread regionally to the lymph nodes in the neck or, even worse, to a more distant location in the body such as the lungs. When found late like this, survival rates are dramatically reduced. Regular oral screenings could save your life.
VELscope Enhanced Oral Assessment System for Oral Cancer Early Detection
Because April is Oral cancer awareness month, we would like to introduce our newest addition to the office, VELscope. At Floss Dental Boutique in Reno, Dr. Holloway and her staff are committed to incorporating the latest technology into the practice so they can go above and beyond the standard of care for our patients.
The award-winning VELscope uses natural tissue fluorescence to improve the way practitioners examine the soft tissue lining of your mouth and your gums. The VELscope better screens for tissue abnormalities by enhancing the visualization of pre-cancers, cancer, and other diseases
Early Detection of Oral Cancer and Why it’s Important
The 5-year relative survival rate is over 85% is oral cancer is discovered early. If oral cancer is discovered late, it is only about a 40% survival rate. This year, about 54,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral/oropharyngeal cancer and nearly 11,000 will die. Early detection is key to survival and recovery.
Comprehensive Oral Exam (COE)
Also referred to as an intra and extraoral head and neck exam, this is an examination performed by your dentist or hygienist that assesses your head and neck for anything unusual. This could present as asymmetry or abnormal lumps and bumps. Your dentist will also examine the inside of your oral cavity. Your dentist uses their eyes (visual assessment) and their hands (palpation) to help check for anything unusual. You’ll usually remember if you’ve had this examination performed because it involves having your tongue gently pulled out so that the dentist can get a good look at the base of your tongue.
Although this examination is an overall assessment of the health of your head and neck region and is checking for all kinds of disease, one of its most important functions is to screen for oral cancer and precancer, also called “dysplasia”.
Enhanced Oral Screening
In addition to completing the comprehensive oral exam, Dr. Holloway or your hygienist will also use the VELscope. The VELscope is that extra layer of assurance to find anything that might have been missed with the regular COE exam. The VELscope emits specific wavelengths of blue spectrum light into your mouth to stimulate natural tissue fluorescence which can be viewed directly through the VELscope. Research has shown that this tool can help find abnormal tissue that might have unnoticed by the naked eye.